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Aquatic Visitors Center (AVC) | Ohio Sea Grant

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Aquatic Visitors Center (AVC)

Come check out the fish in the display tanks and raceways, look at live plankton in microscopes or fish from the dock

Tour Information

Days Availability Cost Notes
AVC Tours T May 18 – August 31
10 a.m.-11 a.m.
$5/pp free/children 3 and under
(1 child per adult)


Registration Form
 

In a 1-hour tour, people of all ages will have the chance to explore Lake Erie’s complex ecosystem through hands-on activities and tanks containing live fish. Children under 16 can borrow fishing gear and fish for free off the 100-foot pier.

Stone Lab tour guides will accept payment by credit card or cash before starting the tour. Tours can accommodate up to 10 people.

Masks are required indoors on all Ohio State campuses, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required outdoors for unvaccinated individuals when they cannot maintain physical distancing.

Full details for required Personal Safety Practices on Ohio State properties are available at safeandhealthy.osu.edu/personal-protection-hygiene.

Learn more about Lake Erie by exploring its rich history and experiencing science up close at the Aquatic Visitors Center on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island near Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

  • Investigate Lake Erie’s complex ecosystem through hands-on science activities, such as peering through microscopes and identifying the lake’s tiniest inhabitants
  • Observe live Lake Erie fish species
  • Discover current research being done to protect Lake Erie
  • Examine how the fish hatchery operated and see some of the original equipment
  • Ask Aquatic Visitors Center experts your Lake Erie questions

Go Fish!

A lifelong love of fishing can be sparked on the Aquatic Visitors Center fishing pier, where children under age 16 can fish for free!

Children can borrow fishing gear and snag some bait, provided by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. They often reel in bluegill, pumpkinseed, bass, or yellow perch, but you never know what might bite! Kids can even learn about the food web as their freshly caught round gobies, an invasive species, are fed to the hungry fish in the Aquatic Visitors Center’s aquaria.

History

Currently operated by Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, the Aquatic Visitors Center served as the State Fish Hatchery at Put-in-Bay from 1907 through 1988.

In its more than 80 years of operation, the hatchery raised a variety of fish species, including walleye, sauger, whitefish, herring, yellow perch, coho salmon, chinook salmon, and steelhead. Hatching jars, raceways, and other artifacts from those by-gone days are still on display.

In 1992, ODNR Division of Wildlife converted the hatchery building to the Aquatic Visitors Center, an educational facility to bring history, fishing information, and hands-on activities to the public. Ohio Sea Grant took over management in 2009, continuing to teach the next generation about the importance of protecting Lake Erie.

Research

Ohio Sea Grant and the ODNR Division of Wildlife lead the way on research to solve the most pressing problems facing Lake Erie. Some of this research takes place on-site at the neighboring Stone Laboratory, the nation’s oldest biological freshwater field station and Ohio State University’s island campus on Lake Erie. At the Aquatic Visitors Center, guests learn about current research projects investigating topics like walleye tracking, aquatic invasive species, the dead zone, and fish biology.